"Black Panther" snuck in a reference to a famous internet meme, in case you missed it
There’s a wholeeeeeeee lot to love about Black Panther including, of course, breakout star Letitia Wright — who plays tech genius and Wakandan royalty, Shuri.
On top of being empowering as hell (it’s not often that you see a woman behind a nation’s tech on-screen), Wright is a hilarious scene stealer who brings levity to the Ryan Coogler-directed film about T’Challa/Black Panther’s (Chadwick Boseman) fight to maintain the Wakandan throne, and keep local precious metal vibranium out of the hands of those who would use it with mal-intent.
But actually, most of her jokes are pure F-I-R-E. And one that still has the internet talking came when Shuri spots her brother, T’Challa, wearing traditional leather sandals and exclaims, “What are thoooose?!” In case that doesn’t ring a bell, the line is referring to an internet meme that took off in 2015. It started when Brandon Moore (Instagram user @youngbusco) uploaded a video of a woman being arrested; as she’s being put in a police car, the camera pans to an officer’s feet to show his black boots as the now-famous words — “What are thoooose?!” — are exclaimed.
There’s humor to the delivery of the now-famous line but, as The Washington Post points out, the video is also an act of subversion of authority figures. “The asker never actually wants to know the brand of his victim’s shoes,” Caitlin Dewey writes, referring to the many videos and memes Moore’s video went on to spark. “He wants to publicly call out and/or humiliate him on a platform where his power is reduced.”
The idea has also been re-appropriated for more comedic purposes, too — many of those examples being more about questionable footwear itself.
Looking at Black Panther…T’Challa is Shuri’s brother but he’s also the new king of Wakanda. So, on some level, she’s prodding an authority figure. But really, since Shuri is royal herself and because of her delivery, the line plays more like a joke. And Twitter has mixed feelings about it, with some calling the reference outdated and inappropriate, and others praising Wright’s comedic abilities:
So, the verdict’s still out on the “What are thoooose?!” reference, but one thing is for sure: Black Panther, as a whole, is amazing and we can’t wait to see it again, and again…and again.